Contador confirms he wants to focus on 2013 Tour de France, may not ride other Grand Tours
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Friday, November 30, 2012

Contador confirms he wants to focus on 2013 Tour de France, may not ride other Grand Tours

by VeloNation Press at 7:11 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Spaniard states case for early clarification on Tour participation, vows not to race too long

Alberto ContadorAfter previously stating that he was not sure of his programme for the 2013 season, Alberto Contador has confirmed that winning another Tour de France is his major target and that he is hoping his Team Saxo – Tinkoff squad will be part of the race.

The Danish outfit is currently facing uncertainty due to its position of twentieth place in the UCI’s hierarchy of teams. Contador’s points are not taken into account due to his ban, and of the five teams between sixteenth and twentieth, only three will be given a UCI ProTeam licence.

If Saxo Tinkoff misses out – as some consider possible – the squad will need a wildcard entry to the Tour de France and other major events.

Contador recently suggested that he might not ride the Tour if he was not given sufficient notice of such a wildcard, stating that if the team is only told it only has a place two months before the start, that he would not participate.

“I need enough time to prepare,” he said then. “If this doesn’t happen then I won’t be at the start.”

Speaking yesterday in Madrid at a conference about his new endorsement deal with Time Sport watches and bracelets, the Spaniard clarified that statement and insisted he was not trying to force Tour organiser ASO to present an early guarantee that the team will be there.

“My statements have not been at all a way to pressure the Tour,” he stated. “What I said is that we analyse all the possibilities. We are waiting to know if we will be WorldTour or not and, accordingly, if we will be automatically qualified for those races. If not, we need invitations.

“I'd like to be in the Tour, because I couldn’t be this year and last year I could not race at the level I would have liked, but this is not defiance. It is just a sporting matter. Both the team and myself need to make a schedule with time to plan it.”

Having a UCI ProTeam licence gives a team certainty about which races it can ride. If Team Saxo – Tinkoff is successful in its application, it means that Contador can structure his season towards being in his best shape at the Tour.

If the team doesn’t get the licence and he learns early on that he won’t be given a Tour invite, he will instead focus on the Giro d’Italia. However that too requires a long build-up to be at a competitive peak. Again, certainty is needed.

“To prepare for the Tour takes eight weeks, but it is not only that,” he explained. “If you prepare thoroughly for the Giro and then do not go, everything changes [in terms of having to re-time the peak in form – ed.]. So it is important to know with enough time.”

Still, despite the uncertainty about the licence, he emphasised that he was happy being part of the team. He moved there prior to the start of the 2011 season and while some of that time has been marked by his ultimately-unsuccessful battle against a ban for Clenbuterol, he returned to racing last August and went on to win the Vuelta a España.

Contador’s schedule for the first half of the year will be clarified when the team knows if it will automatically be doing the WorldTour races or not. As things stand right now, though, he names only his first race of the season. “At the moment I can not say [his plans – ed.]. I can only say that I’ll begin in the Tour de San Luis.”

As for whether he will do one three week stage race or two, that too is up in the air. “Maybe I will just
ride one Grand Tour, because there are other riders in the team that can at least guarantee to be on the podium in the others.”

Team Saxo Tinkoff has signed riders such as Roman Kreuziger and Nicolas Roche and if the Spaniard does elect to compete in only one major Tour, they or others on the team may get the captain’s role.

Contador’s birthday will take place next week and he joked that the thoughts of turning thirty are painful. More seriously, he suggested that he won’t race as long as some of his rivals, perhaps wishing to go out while he is still capable of winning big races. He raced alongside Lance Armstrong when he returned to the sport in 2009 and saw the Texan being unable to win any UCI-ranked races between then and his last event in January 2011.

“I’ve got a three year contract now and I will finish it. I will not overextend my career,” he said. “Now I look at myself and I think it's impressive how I've aged during these years.

“This is a tough sport, but physically I feel fine, eager, I recover well and I have more strength and more experience. All of this motivates me.”

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